A young woman with learning difficulties and mental health needs was living happily with her mum and sister. Her family wants to arrange her marriage to a man who has come over from abroad. He needs to marry a British citizen so he can stay in the UK and probably has no interest in his wife-to-be. Mum feels this will be a good match as no one is willing to marry her daughter due to her disability and mental health. Dreaming of a beautiful life with her husband, and expecting the happiness and blessings that her new life would soon bring to her lap, she finally got married. However with the passage of time, she realised that it’s not like what she dreamed about – physically assaulted on regular basis and being mentally tortured everyday. She got scared of her life partner’s brutal attitude and soon asked her mum for help. But her mum didn’t offer any, instead she told her daughter that she had to go with it for good, otherwise it would bring shame
upon the family. Her husband had took all of her benefit money and sent it back home to support his family. Couple of months after the marriage, she had a miscarriage that made her life more miserable and her husband went even more aggressive towards her. Finally, her dreams ended up in smoke – she got divorced from her husband after he got a British passport and then he started his own life, leaving her alone. This is not the only story of this kind. History is full of such stories as this crime is in practiced almost everywhere. An estimated 8,000 women became victims of forced marriages per year. There are so many ways that women are forced into marriages and to save the honour of her family. There are other kinds of forced marriages, such as ‘shot gun weddings’, whereby an unplanned pregnancy occurs and the woman needs to be married in order to avoid the supposed shame of having an illegitimate child. Another is the ‘compensation
marriage’; also known as vanni, swara and sang chatti, in which a woman or girl is forced into marriage in order to resolve feuds between two families. In the UK, forced marriages are now a criminal offence. Recently it has been announced by Secretary of State Theresa May that forced marriages are an ‘appalling practice’ and criminalising it would send “a strong message that it will not be tolerated”. She stated that parents who force their children to marry in England and Wales could be jailed for up to five years. The announcement follows a Home Office consultation that ended in March, launched by David Cameron. Teresa May also announced £500,000 in funding to help schools and other agencies to spot early signs of forced marriages.
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